On the Thursday before Labor Day weekend Lourdes Lopez received a call from Miami City Ballet. In the spring she had been named to succeed the outgoing artistic director Edward Villella. His departure was controversial — an unhappy board, heartbroken dancers, financial problems. Instead of following through on plans to leave in April, Mr. Villella abruptly ended his tenure that weekend; by the time the dancers returned on Tuesday, he was gone. For Ms. Lopez, who like Mr. Villella is a former New York City Ballet principal under George Balanchine, it’s been a whirlwind. She arrived in Miami, with one big suitcase, at 1 a.m. that Tuesday. Eight hours later she was in charge of both the company and its school. 

Even though she hasn’t lived there for 40 years, Miami is home to Ms. Lopez, who left at 14 to pursue a ballet career in New York. This month she’ll be back in New York to see performances by Morphoses, the company she formed in 2007 with Christopher Wheeldon, that start Wednesday at the Joyce Theater. In 2010 Mr. Wheeldon left the group, but Ms. Lopez carried on, changing its structure to showcase the work of a single resident artistic director. This year it is the Swedish film director and choreographer Pontus Lidberg; next year the organization will become part of Miami City Ballet.

Ms. Lopez, 54, spoke about her experiences and plans for both companies in a phone interview from her Miami Beach headquarters. These are excerpts from that conversation...


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